So you are thinking of cloth diapers but have a million questions about them? Ok – First things first – It’s no longer the ones like what our parents or grandparents used. With the new technology advancements, cloth diapers are now available in superior quality fabrics, designs, and fittings. It’s also one important step towards keeping our environment clean as it adds much less solid waste and raw material waste to the landfill compared to disposable diapers.

1. Why Cloth Diapers?

Frankly, when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2013, I seriously did not know there were such cute and lovely cloth or washable diapers available. I knew only of different colored “langots” and nappy pads along with it and our regular disposable diapers from Huggies, Mamy Poko pants and Pampers. Pampers were most popular especially with newborns and infants which is what I used the most.

I know it has cost me a lot more than if I used cloth diapers. Also, I would have been free of the diaper rash scare that always haunted me whenever I changed my baby’s diapers. In fact, they would have even looked much cuter than the regular ones. I wish I knew more about them earlier…

How did I get interested in this now?
Well, recently I visited a friend of mine who has an 8-month-old boy. I saw that she was using cloth diapers and was very happy about it. When I had a look at the variety of diapers she had, I was pleasantly surprised. The colors, fabric, and feel was so much better than the disposable ones, with the added advantage of being much more comfortable.

Then a week later one of my friends who was going to be a first-time mom was curious about which ones to use. She had a lot of questions and so I decided to do some research myself and clarify all her problems. This article is born out of that research to help the larger audience.

2. Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Environment Friendly

A child typically uses upto 5000+ diapers until they are potty trained. Each of these disposable diapers will take about 200-300 years to decompose. 20-35  cloth diapers will last you until your child is potty trained and these diapers are Reusable which help in Reducing the non degradable waste and since these are made out of naturally occurring fibers these are Recyclable.

Cost Saving

As discussed above cloth diapers may be a big cost upfront but they are definitely a cost saving option in the long run. One diaper is re-used for more than 9 months while occasionally replacing the old insert pads. On the other hand, disposable diapers are much more costlier.

Hygiene

Many parents would have noticed the diaper rashes caused by these disposable diapers, not to mention the fact that the use of chemicals in the absorbents are also harmful for the sensitive skin of the baby. Cloth diapers are not only softer but also more comfortable and chemical free.

 

Flexibility

Being ONE SIZE, the same diaper can be used while the baby grows using the adjustable snaps on the diapers. Works for size from infants to toddlers from weights, 3Kg up to 15kgs.

Variety

Cloth diapers are definitely not like the ones our parents or grandparents used. They are so much better in terms of fabric, colors, designs, and fittings.

Super Comfortable 

The diaper fabrics are very soft to touch and feel. Especially for your baby’s soft skin, it feels very comfortable and weighs less.

Leak-Free

They seem to have less incidences of leakage of both urine or poop, than disposable diapers. The waterproof cover is stitched and glued to the inner lining such that they are leakproof.

Reusable

The diaper sizes can be adjusted. So, you can practically use the same one since birth to toddler where they slowly get ready to be potty trained. You can also reuse if you have more than a single child, and also pass it on to new mothers, who prefer using soft and washed clothes than new ones for their newborns.

EASE OF USE  Diapering is basically SO SO EASY with cloth diapers. Even Fathers and Grandparents can do it easily.

 

3. One step towards keeping our Environment Clean

  • Firstly, cloth diapers are less harmful to the environment as they are free of chemicals and can be reused again and again.
  • Cloth diaper waste can also be easily washed out in the toilet.
  • Now considering disposable diapers, each baby uses diapers from it is birth until it is potty trained i.e almost 3 years. Babies use up to 8-10 diapers as infants…that reduces overtime to 5-6 per day.
  • On average, a baby requires almost 5000 diapers in their growing period. Each waste diaper weighs up to 240gms.
  • So each baby produces almost 1150kgs of NON DEGRADABLE diaper waste which is as heavy as a FULL GROWN ADULT BUFFALO is dumped into our landfills. 
  • Each diaper takes almost 200-300 YEARS to decompose.
  • Diaper waste should NEVER be thrown in water bodies as ammonia (pee) when combined with absorbent chemicals spreads various deadly diseases that are in turn consumed by us.
  • Globally this number exceeds more than 7.6 billion pounds which can be stretched to the moon and back 9 times.

Impact Of Disposable Diapers On The Landfills

Impact Of Disposable Diapers On The Landfills

 

4. One Size 

One size from 4Kgs to 15Kgs

One size from 4Kgs to 15Kgs

One size diapers are probably the best invention in the cloth diaper industry. Earlier we would have to buy a different set of diapers for each size, but with the coming of one size diapers, we can buy a few which will be used over time. This has helped many families to save up a lot of money. Rise settings, waist, and hip snaps are all adjustable, the below image provides us a better explanation about how to use them.

These diapers are very convenient and cost effective as one diaper will be used for a longer period of time. One size diapers start from 4kg which can fit your baby until they are about 15kgs, this is almost 2 years we are talking about. Newborns have a different size requirement where you will end up spending more for a less amount of time. We recommend that you use nappies, padded nappies, for infants.

 

5. Different Types/Styles of Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have actually been there for ages. Our parents and grandparents used it but they were so basic, that after one use, you needed to change. So, for a newborn, you needed a lot of them. Slowly disposable diapers came into the market. Use and Throw was more convenient for us women, who did not want to soak and wash.

But today, rather from some years now, cloth diapers are back into the market and they are better in both fitting and designs. It’s not like the traditional langots, but much bolder and better. The different types of cloth diapers available today are:

  1. Flats and Pre-folds
  2. Fitted
  3. Pocket
  4. All in One
  5. All in Two
  6. Hybrid

Comparison chart - All types of cloth diapers

Comparison chart – All types of cloth diapers

Let’s check the different types or styles in detail:

Flats and Pre-folds 

Things you must know:

  • To be folded in desired shapes and need extra clips or tie for fastening.
  • Very high amount of cost saving.
  • It has a very low absorption capacity.

Some flats we recommend:
1. Organic Flat Cloth Diapers by OsoCozy
2. Cotton Cloth Diapers/Langot by Dolphers.

For more details on Flats and Prefolds, read below:
– They are both very basic, like the ones I spoke about earlier.
– Our parents and grandparents used them.
– They are rectangular in shape and flat.
– You need to fold them into a desired shape, and then fasten on baby with a tie or pins or clips.
– You would want to also put an additional cover over it. These covers can be as simple as cotton or wool pull-ons, or a waterproof one or lately you will also find quick-dry diaper covers.

There are basically three types of flats & prefolds :

  1. Traditional Flats.
  2. Prefolds or Nappies.

Traditional Flats

Traditional Flat cloth diapers

Traditional Flats

Prefolds/Nappies

Padded Cloth nappies: Padded nappies/langots have an extra layer of hosiery cotton layer which provides more absorption and is softer on your baby’s skin.


We found the following products for padded cloth diapers suited well:
1.
Nammababy Newborn Baby Cloth Nappies by Tinchuk
2.
TotzTouch Premium Cotton Hosiery Nappies by Softcare
3. Super Nappy Soft Organic Cotton Nappies by Superbottoms.

Prefolds - Nappy Style cloth diapers

Prefolds – Nappy Style

Simple Cloth Nappies: These are the traditional langots which have been in use since we were kids or even before that but with better and more comfortable material thanks to modern technology. A few of the stand out products are given below:

1. First Touch Washable Hosiery Cotton nappies by Chrish.
2. New Born Washable Reusable Hosiery Cotton Diapers by FirstVibe.

Nappy Prefolds in different designs

Nappy Prefolds in different designs

Secure the nappy with tie

Secure the nappy with tie

As you can see they are quite basic and since they are made of single-layer cloth, they usually are “One wear” “One wash” kind of diapers or nappies.

Advantages of Folds and Prefolds:

  • Very simple and easy to use.
  • Very inexpensive.
  • Dries comparatively faster as they are thin.
  • Very good for newborns where baby is delicate & tiny and also have sensitive skin.

Disadvantages of Folds and Prefolds:

  • You need to change each time the baby wets the cloth. It’s very absorbent and so gets fully wet.
  • Need to keep a waterproof mat below baby.
  • Might want to buy larger sizes as your baby grows.- It needs a pin to keep together but can be risky.

Fitteds

Things You need to know:

  • Ready to wear with help of snap buttons and Velcro.
  • Inserts can be added for extra absorption.
  • Safe for poop, but when soiled needs to be washed completely.

These are the few products we came across:
1. Fitted Cloth Diapers by Ecoable.
2. Unbleached Cotton Fitted Cloth Diaper by EasyFeel

Read below for more information on Fitted diapers.

– Fitted diapers are similar to the flats and prefolds, wherein it needs a waterproof cover.
– The diaper itself has contour shape like a disposable diaper and fits the baby snug with elastic legs.
– Good part is that they do not have to be folded like flats or prefolds and are “ready-to-be-worn”. They come with snaps buttons or with Velcro.
– These days fitted diapers come with an absorbent insert. This insert typically can hold up to 2-3 hours or 3-4 pees. It’s also safe for poop but needs to be cleaned ASAP.
– If used without the inserts, they work like flats where they get completely wet or soiled.
– The material used typically are of good absorbents like cotton, bamboo, or hemp.
You can see a variety of fitted diapers below.

Fitted cloth diapers made of hemp

Fitted cloth diapers made of hemp

The inner side of fitted cloth diaper

The inner side of fitted cloth diaper

Advantages of Fitteds:

  • Very inexpensive again.
  • Slightly easier to use than the flat diaper because there is no folding involved.
  • Fitted diapers also do a better job than flats at keeping the poo in.
  • No problem with any pins or clips that could hurt the baby.
  • Available in cute colors and designs for kids.

Disadvantages of Fitteds:

  • Need the insert to partially hold up the pee. Can be bulky.
  • They last only for 2-3 hours max and needs to be changed after that.
  • Without insert, it works like prefolds and gets completely wet.

Pocket Diapers

Things you need to know:

  • Pocket diapers are one size, waterproof, and have better absorption capacity.
  • Cost-efficient.
  • Whole diaper is to be washed when it is spoiled.

We recommend these pocket style diapers:
1. Plus UNO Reusable Cloth Diaper by Superbottoms
2. Apple Blossoms Reusable cloth Diapers by AppleBlossoms
3. 4 Layers Pocket Style Cloth Diapers by Bamboo Charcoal

Read below for more information on Pocket Diapers.

-They come in two parts. Outer being the cover or shell and inserts or lining that is the main part of the diaper which will soak up all moisture.
– With these types of diapers, the cover and the inserts are not attached. The inserts are placed inside an opening. Hence, the name pocket diapers.
– Inserts are available in different materials too.
– They are mainly good absorbents.
– For a heavy wetter at times you can place two inserts so that they don’t leak.

Pictorial view of Pocket Diaper from inside

Pictorial view of Pocket Diaper from inside

Pocket Diaper with lining/insert to be placed inside pocket

Pocket Diaper with lining/insert to be placed inside pocket

Advantages of Pocket Diapers:

  • Covers are waterproof so lasts longer.
  • Inserts can be changed alone.
  • Does not need additional waterproof cover like fitted ones.
  • Very user-friendly and easy to use.
  • Inserts come in different materials you can choose from.
  • You can also choose to stuff two for a heavy wetter or for the night.
  • Most commonly used today.

Disadvantages of Pocket Diapers:

  • It can be bulky.
  • Removing inserts and inserting new into pocket can be time-consuming.
  • If soiled with Poop, the whole diaper needs to be changed.

All in One Diapers

Things You need to know:

  • Single-piece, inserts can be added for extra absorption.
  • Can be changed quickly 
  • Longer time to dry

A few stand out products:
1. All in One Bottom-Bumpers by Baby Bucket
2. Duet Stay Dry All in One Diaper by Bumpadum
3. All in One Reusable Cloth Diaper for heavy Absorbancy by BabyCentralIndia

For more information, read on:
– These are the latest advanced version of cloth diapers.
– They are typically “Single-Use” diapers.
– The main benefit they have is that they are a single unit. No need to replace any inserts or covers.
– Are closest to what we know as disposable diapers.

All in One (AIO) with the attached inner lining or insert

All in One (AIO) with the attached inner lining or insert

Advantages of AIO Diapers

  • Single piece so no need to stuff or change lining.
  • It can be changed quickly.
  • Has good absorbent lining and if an extra one added inside can be used for night time too.

Disadvantages of AIO:

  • Slightly pricey than other diapers we saw.
  • It takes a longer time to dry.

All in Two Diaper

Things You Need To know: 

  • Additional inserts can be added as the outer shell is waterproof and they can be snapped into place.
  • Better than AIO and Pocket diapers.
  • Slightly on the expensive side 

We recommend these amazing products:
1. Cloth Diapers Plus UNO by Superbottoms

You can read more about All in Two here:
– All in Two (AI2) is pretty much like a pocket diaper.
– Instead of stuffing the insert in the pocket, you simply snap it inside the diaper.
– The outer cover is a waterproof shell and you can add additional inserts.

All in Two Diapers (AI2) with cover/shell and removable insert

All in Two Diapers (AI2) with cover/shell and removable insert

Advantages of AI2:

  • Very easy to change. Quicker than pocket diapers.
  • Can reuse cover and only need to change inserts after being soiled.

Disadvantages of AI2:

  • It can be expensive.

Hybrid Diapers

Things You need to know:

  • Variable Inserts available.
  • Best for traveling.
  • Leakage possible due to contouring for two types of inserts.

A few products that we came across are from
1. Hybrid Cloth Diaper by Grovia
2. Hybrid Cloth Diaper with Reusable and NON-TOXIC disposable soaker by Bumbchum

Read more about Hybrid Diapers here:

-Very similar to All in Two (AI2) diapers where inserts are snapped inside.
-Outer cover is waterproof.
-You can either use cloth inserts or disposable depending upon use.

Hybrid diapers with disposable insert. Inserts can also be cloth.

Hybrid diapers with disposable insert. Inserts can also be cloth.

Advantages of Hybrid Diapers:

  • Good to use when on travel or its difficult to rinse off a soiled insert.
  • Bio-degradable disposable inserts available so takes care of nature too.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Diapers:

  • Bio-degradable inserts are quite expensive so overall a pricey product.
  • The contouring is not at its best due to the dual type of inserts that can be used, hence leakage is possible.
  • Quite expensive.

 

6. Different Fabrics For Cloth Diapers

Modern cloth diapers are generally made up of a waterproof PUL (plastic material) diaper cover or shell which prevents leakage and an inner absorbent material. The absorbent inserts can be made of synthetic microfiber or natural fibers (cotton, hemp, or bamboo blends). Most modern diapers also have plastic snaps or Velcro closures which give a snug fit to your baby.

Waterproof layer

Waterproofing is achieved for the outer layers using two common materials:
– TPU ( thermoplastic polyurethane)
– PUL (polyurethane laminate).

Absorbents

Various fabrics are used for cloth diaper absorbents like Cotton, Wool, Bamboo, Hemp, Modal and Microfiber.

Cotton

Cotton is the most widely used and most commonly available natural fabric on the planet. It is being used for diapers from a very long time due to its absorbing qualities.

Some products that you can purchase:
1. Superbottoms Plus UNO Soaker Set
2. Superbottoms Organic Cotton Dry-Feel Soakers

Cotton Inserts for cloth diapers

Cotton Inserts

Bamboo

Bamboo fiber is a very absorbent material that is said to naturally resist the growth of bacteria. Bamboo plants are fast-growing hence sustainable. But the environmental good by sustainable farming is short-lived due to the complex process of turning bamboo into the soft, comfortable material with the help of various chemical processes.

Some Bamboo inserts that you can purchase:
1. Bembika 5 Layer Bamboo Charcoal Inserts
2. Babymoon Bamboo 5 Layer Charcoal Wetfree Inserts
3. Tiny tots 5 Layered Inserts of Charcoal Bamboo

Bamboo 5 layer inserts for cloth diapers

Bamboo 5 layer inserts

Modal

This fabric is made from the wood pulp of the beech trees. Modal fabric has gained popularity in the textile industry in recent years due to its silky feel and it maintains its softness over time. This fabric is highly absorbent, with a holding capacity of 50% more than cotton. It is not available in India yet as of now.

Hemp

Hemp is another Natural fiber that is said to resist bacteria growth. It has more water holding capacity than cotton. While they have the ability to hold more water than cotton, hemp’s textile forms are quite thin and stiff, and they do not absorb water as quickly as cotton or polyester. To overcome this issue, most diaper brands that use hemp will combine hemp with another fiber, so you will usually see ‘hemp/cotton blend’ on the care tag.

Here are some products if you wish to purchase:
1. Bumpadum Hemp Booster Insert
2. Tinytots 4 Layered Cloth Diapers
3. Kiddiehug Reusable Hemp Inserts

Hemp inserts for high absorbency

Hemp inserts for high absorbency

MicroFiber

Microfiber or Polyester, which is often used alongside products like ‘Minky’ & ‘ Zorb’.

Microfiber Inserts for cloth diapers

Microfiber Inserts

  • Minky: Minky has the same absorption capacity as microfiber. It is less bulkier, softer, and repels stains better than microfiber.
  • Zorb: Zorb is a blend of bamboo, cotton, viscose, and microfiber. It was designed specifically for cloth diapers, with the goal of reducing costs and improving performance. The manufacturer claims that it absorbs moisture 20x faster than other fabrics, and will hold more moisture. It’s apparently a miracle fabric for diapers too.

Here are some products you can purchase:

1. Tinytots Baby Microfiber Inserts
2. Fig-O-Honey Microfiber Washable Insert
3. Softspun Microfiber 4 Layer Inserts
4. Bumberry Wet-Free Microfiber Inserts

Now that we have seen the different types and different fabrics of a diaper, let’s look closely of how it benefits us in cost.

 

7. Cost of Disposable diapers vs cloth diapers

Cost saving is the next main goal after providing good hygiene for the baby and being Eco-friendly. On average, disposable diapers cost approximately INR 12 per diaper. This may seem like a cheaper option in the short run but is in fact highly expensive in the longer run.

After some studies and comparisons with a dozen of mommies, we saw that over a period of time, i.e. from 6months till the time baby is potty trained, around 5-6 diapers are required per day. Also, below 6months around 10-12 diapers are needed per day. With this data, let’s make a realistic cost comparison.

So, it comes down to 5000 disposable diapers Vs 28 cloth diapers along with 50 extra inserts for a period of 3 years.

Disposable vs Cloth diapers - Cost Comparison

Disposable vs Cloth diapers – Cost Diffrence

I think with these numbers, there is no need for any more comparisons or discussions. Cloth diapers are a clear winner!!!

Let’s see a graphically over time in the two charts below.

Cost comparison of Pocket Style diapers and Disposable diapers.

Cost comparison of Pocket Style diapers and Disposable diapers.

Cost Analysis of Pocket Style diapers and Disposable diapers.

Cost Comparison between AI2 and Disposable diapers

Cost comparison of AI2 Style diapers and Disposable diapers.

Cost comparison of AI2 Style diapers and Disposable diapers.

 

8. How to Use Cloth Diapers

  1. After testing the different categories out we recommend the pocket diapers and all in two diapers provided by various sellers like Superbottom, Bembika, and Kiddiehug.
  2. Ideally, a newborn will require a minimum of 10-12 diaper changes per day and a toddler will require about 5-6 diaper changes per day. All in two diapers and pocket diapers have a waterproof outer shell meaning you only need to replace the insert pad. This can be done only if the outer shell is free of smell and any residue.
  3. You should change the diaper depending upon how the baby pees/poops. Ideally, the diaper should be replaced every 2-3 hours for hygiene purposes unless the baby is sleeping.
  4. This image below shows a visual representation of how the diaper should be fitted. (credit:

How to wear a cloth diaper? by Bembika

How to wear a cloth diaper?

Now let’s see how to clean a soiled cloth diaper which is most important in order to keep them soft, clean & hygienic and long-lasting.

 

9. How to Clean Cloth Diapers

Follow these basic steps to launder cloth diapers:

  • Remove inserts and wash off the solids if any with water or a health faucet.
  • Always use the highest water level allowed by your washer.
  • Begin with a cold rinse, no detergent.
  • After the cold rinse, run a regular wash cycle on hot, using 1/4 cup detergent. If you’re using a cloth diaper detergent, follow the instructions on the package.
  • Follow up with an extra rinse on cold.
  • Use normal powder detergent and not liquid detergents or soaps.
  • You can also add baking soda or vinegar or Dettol to the wash to remove the foul smell.
  • Make sure the last rinse is soap-free and re-rinse if necessary.
  • Air dry in sunlight for best results. Do not use a high-temperature dryer.

Simple steps to wash cloth diapers

Simple steps to wash cloth diapers

What not to do

  • Don’t apply liquid detergents or soaps.
  • Do not use fragrant detergents.
  • Avoid using bleach as it will break down the fabric.
  • Also, the use of fabric softeners is off-limits as they have a strong scent that may irritate your baby’s skin.

 

If you want to know more details on washing diapers, I can prepare a separate article and recommend some of the well-known products especially to take care of your baby’s sensitive skin. Let me know in the comment section below.

Final words

So hope this article helps clear all your doubts about cloth diapers and gives you a better perspective. I am hoping you are now more inclined to choose cloth diaper over disposable diapers considering not just the cost but also going green and saving our environment.

Do share your views or feedback about the article and let me know in the comment section below if there are still any queries you have and I can help answer them.